We have been at sea for 5 days, entering our 6th and are half way between St Thomas and CT, about 200 miles SW of Bermuda and 700 miles from Montauk, the eastern most point of Long Island where we will enter Long Island Sound and head home.
Winds continue to be light and we have motored for 40 hours. That is not a lot of engine time compared to our trips south over the years when a total of between 100 and 150 hours is typical. However, the run north is generally better for sailing as it takes advantage of the easterly trade winds for the first half and the prevailing SW winds off of the US east coast, for the second. However, this spring has seen particularly active cold fronts rolling off the US east coast so the trade winds have been suppressed.
Another contributor to the low hours is that I am trying to time my arrival at the south side (entry point) of the Gulf Stream to avoid the strongest of the winds that will accompany a particularly strong front that is expected to exit the NE Coast later in the week. Being in the GS with a strong NE wind is just not a good idea.
The strongest of these NE winds will have gusts into the low 30s, which is pretty sporty. Generally, anything over mid 20s is annoying and just too much like work to be fun.
The timing of what could technically be a gale, or a Nor’easter, is a bit uncertain so I am taking a conservative view of things, trying to move along a bit slower and let the worst of it clear out before we get there. These fast-moving lows are quite difficult to forecast and the actual timing isn’t generally clear until just a day or so before they arrive.
Our best guess is to plan on arriving at the south wall of the Stream (and the edge of the GS is quite abrupt and you can actually see a change in the water color, temperature and wave configuration, hence: wall) around mid-day on Friday. With that in mind, our plan is to adjust our speed to an average of 6.5kts do we arrive at the right time.
It’s a bit difficult to accurately titrate our speed for the next 500 miles to the GS as the wind will vary anywhere from less than 10kts to near 30kts, a huge swing. When the wind is strong, we will be going upwards of 8-9kts but less than 6 when we are motoring. How to manage to get the average to come out at 6kts, assuming that the front moves at the planned speed, is tricky.
So, for now, a lovely sail. It’s quite calm with a beam wind of only about 10kts. Mike relaxing, keeping an eye on things. However, we have not seen much for days beyond an occasional ship or two.One way or the other, we will sort it out and just deal with whatever comes our way. For now, easy sailing.
Beyond that, the crew of Pandora has settled into life at sea and one day just rolls into the next. The middle of a run like this is the most pleasant as we are not close enough to our destination to ask “are we there yet?” or far enough away to think “OMG, we have not even covered 10% of the run. I hate this!”
Our days now are pretty much taken up by keeping watch, sleeping, eating, and thinking about the coming weather.
Down below, everything is stowed and set up to be comfortable and yet protect the cushions from salt and excess wear. Note the canvas covers on everything to keep things clean.George is using the aft cabin, Mike to port (left) and me on the right. The center of the boat, the main cabin, has the least motion.
As to “when are we going to get there?”, it’s a bit too soon to think about that (even if I am) as we still have nearly half of the trip in front of us. However, with the coming winds, what lies ahead will surely be faster than the first half.
So, when will we get there? I expect that Sunday is a good guess but we will just have to see.
One thing that is certain is that we are in fact half of the way there.